Wisdom Teeth Pain, Symptoms, and Extraction

Wisdom Teeth Pain, Symptoms, and Extraction article banner

Does Everyone Have Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are last in line in the back of the mouth and are usually the last teeth to develop. But not all of us have our wisdom teeth, for a variety of reasons. Some humans today have smaller jaws and many of us are unable to accommodate these late-emerging teeth.

Wisdom Teeth Pain

Most of us have four wisdom teeth, one at the back in each section of the mouth. For many people, wisdom teeth emerge from the jaw between the ages of 17 and 25 years, and they don’t cause problems. In other people, wisdom teeth can become trapped or impacted in the jawbone or simply fail to erupt. This can cause crowding or displacement of other teeth or lead to the development of localized tooth decay, infection or gum disease. Impacted wisdom teeth are set in the jawbone in unusual positions, sometimes horizontally, which stops them from erupting in a normal way. However, impacted wisdom teeth often cause no symptoms or pain and stay within the jaw for life.

Wisdom Teeth Symptoms

In some cases, the impacted wisdom tooth does cause problems. You may experience redness and swelling around the area where the tooth is impacted, as well as jaw pain, headaches, and a strange taste when you bite near the area of the impacted tooth.

Wisdom teeth are a holdover from the earlier days of humans, when we ate a more primitive diet and needed more teeth. As wisdom teeth try to emerge, they can push other teeth out of the way and interfere with orthodontic work. Also, partially emerged wisdom teeth can provide a breeding ground for bacteria, and bacterial buildup can lead to severe gum disease.

Wisdom Teeth Extraction

Even if impacted wisdom teeth are causing no symptoms, some dental professionals recommend removing them surgically to prevent the possibility of future problems. Fortunately, wisdom tooth extraction is a common outpatient procedure, performed under local anesthesia. As with any surgery, expect some residual bleeding, swelling and bruising in the first few days, and limit your activities. But most people recover quickly and easily.